The Adventitious Origins of the Calvinist Moral Subject

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This paper argues that Calvin provides an account of the radical unmaking of the human moral subject at the hands of sin and its even more radical remaking at the hands of divine grace. The moral significance of human continuity during this soteriological transit, including such things as reason and will as such, is shown to be overreached by that of what becomes of the human creature in its history at the hands of both sin and God’s grace. Calvin’s treatment of the first and third uses of the law confirms and illumines this claim decisively. Insight into this matter is aided by consideration of J. Louis Martyn’s discussion of the status of the moral subject in Pauline paraenesis A Reformed theological ethic that takes its cues from Calvin’s teaching in this regard will thus regard the adventitious realities of sin and grace, and their serial consequences for the constitution of the human moral agent, to represent the most important meta-ethical realities to be considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-223
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Calvin
  • moral subject
  • uses of the law
  • depravity
  • Pauline apocalyptic
  • sin
  • freedom
  • free will
  • bound will
  • agency


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